No. 14 Bruins Travel to Arizona
No. 14 UCLA (12-2, 5-1 Pac-12) at Arizona (11-6, 3-3 Pac-12)
Date/Time: Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 -- 8 p.m. PT
Location: Tucson, Ariz.
Venue: McKale Center
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Daron Sutton
Stream: Pac-12.com / Pac-12 App
No. 14 UCLA (12-2, 5-1 Pac-12) at Arizona State (8-9, 1-5 Pac-12)
Date/Time: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 -- 1 p.m. PT
Location: Tempe, Ariz.
Venue: Desert Financial Arena
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Daron Sutton
Stream: Pac-12.com / Pac-12 App
No. 14 UCLA Squares Off with the Arizona Schools
The 14th-ranked Bruins head out east on I-10 for a road trip versus Arizona on Friday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. PT and Arizona State on Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. Both matches will be available for viewing on the Pac-12 Network. Live stats will be available on UCLABruins.com.
Bruins Break Out the Brooms
UCLA swept both of its ranked Pac-12 opponents, No. 24 Colorado and No. 15 Utah, in straight sets last weekend in Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins recorded their highest hitting percentage (.406) of Pac-12 play and highest assist percentage (.505) this season in their 3-0 victory over Colorado. Outscoring the Buffs 75-48, UCLA's attack, facilitated by graduate setter Shelby Martin, was too much to handle for the Buffs. The Bruins' 49 kills and 46 assists were the most by a Pac-12 team in a three-set conference match this season, and Mac May's 22 kills (.405) and Martin's 42 assists (.545) were the most by a Pac-12 player in a three-set conference match. Every UCLA attacker who recorded a kill (six Bruins) hit at least .368 or better in the win. The Bruins hit .364 for 20 kills in set one, .417 for 13 kills in set two and finished with an outstanding .464 for 16 kills in the final set. Martin found her attackers at will in the first set with 18 assists, seven of them directed towards May who turned them into kills. Up 13-10 in the second set, the Bruins went on runs of three points three separate times. May, coming off a career-best performance in Pullman last Sunday, closed the set with four kills for the Bruins' final six points. UCLA had its most offensive and defensively sound set in the third when it put together a match-high .464 hitting percentage while holding Colorado's attackers to triple zeroes.
The Bruins swept the Utes behind yet another career-best performance from freshman outside hitter Charitie Luper. Luper set a career-high in points (23.5) and kills (20) at a .400 clip to go with seven digs and two solo blocks in UCLA's upset victory. The Bruins took their first lead in the first set following back-to-back service aces by senior outside hitter élan McCall. Luper's two blocks came on consecutive plays to push the Bruins out to an 18-11 lead. With senior libero Zoe Fleck at the service line, the Bruins went on an 11-1 run to finish the second set. Luper scored five of those points on kills. UCLA closed the match on an 11-4 run with four straight points to seal the sweep victory.
Charitie Luper set a program record with three weekly awards in one season when she garnered her third Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor on Monday, Oct. 12 (last two came on 9/6 and 9/27). Luper, the high-flying 5-9 pin hitter out of Dallas, Texas, established a new career-high with 20 kills versus Utah on Sunday, Oct. 11. Luper leads all Pac-12 freshmen in kills per set (3.57) and points per set (4.00), ranking 9th and 10th overall, respectively, in the conference in each statistical category. She leads UCLA with a .322 hitting percentage (min. 50 kills), and has led the Bruins in kills in four matches this season. Luper's 19 kills versus USC (9/22) were the most by a Bruin freshman in a home opener since Kristee Porter (1998-01). In each of her 15+ kill matches, Luper has scored her points in bunches. Most recently against the Utes, she scored three straight points with two blocks and kill in the first set and then five consecutive Bruin kills in the second set.
May I Introduce You To...
Mac May has scored 20+ kills in five matches and 30+ kills in two matches this season, and has recorded double-digit kills in 13 of 14 matches for the Bruins. May's most recent 20-kill performance came against the Buffs when she hammered home 22 kills at a .405 clip. May won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 4, 2021, following a 59-kill weekend at Washington and Washington State. Her 39 kills in Pullman surpassed her career high by nine kills and established both the most kills by a Bruin in a conference match in program history as well as the second-highest, single-match kill total in program history. It had been 30 years since Natalie Williams recorded more with her 43 kills in a September match versus Hawaii in 1991. The 39 kills -- the most by any Pac-12 player this season -- also tied for the sixth most by a player in conference single-match history. In addition to hitting an efficient .357 on her 84 swings, May achieved a double-double with 15 digs. In the match, she recorded nine kills in the second, fourth and fifth sets. May also picked up 20 kills in the first match of the weekend versus the Huskies. Her 34 kills last weekend pushed her career kill total to 1,750 -- 18 behind Linda Robertson (1978-81, 1,768) for 4th-most on UCLA's all-time kill list. After Robertson, UCLA's Top 3 kill leaders are all in the 2,000-kill club with Liz Masakayan (1982-85, 2,044) next closest in 3rd place.
Pac-12's Strongest 1-2 Punch
May and Luper lead all Pac-12 scoring tandems in combined kills per set (8.07) and points per set (9.07) (min. 35 sets played). In Pac-12 play, May and Luper both rank in the top four in the conference both statistical categories; May is first in kills per set (4.72) and third in points per set (5.12), and Luper is fourth in both kills per set (4.33) and points per set (4.87). With Luper in the lineup for both Pac-12 matches last weekend, the Bruins improved from fourth to second in the conference in hitting percentage in Pac-12 play (.234 to .267).
UCLA's Best Start in 10 Years
Head coach Michael Sealy has guided the Bruins to a 12-2, 5-1 record to open the Fall 2021 season for UCLA's best start since its NCAA National Championship campaign in 2011. The Bruins' two losses this season have both come to ranked teams in No. 25 San Diego (9/21) and No. 13 Washington (10/1). In that 2011 season, UCLA went 14-2 before picking up its third loss of the year to Arizona in five sets.
Back Row Bruins
Seniors Zoe Fleck and élan McCall have been leading the defensive charge in UCLA's back row. Fleck, the reigning Pac-12 Libero of the Year, has led the Bruins in digs in every match this season and ranks fifth in the conference with 4.16 digs per set. She has recorded double-digit digs in all 36 matches of her UCLA career. McCall leads UCLA's pin hitters and ranks sixth amongst Pac-12 pin hitters with 2.42 digs per set (144 digs). The two have helped keep opponents to a .163 hitting percentage, good for second-best in the conference. McCall leads the Pac-12 with 23 service aces, averaging 0.42 aces per set. McCall served up a career-high five service aces in the Bruins' win over Utah, including three in the first set and one to seal the set point in the second frame.
Scouting the Wildcats
Arizona enters Friday having lost three consecutive conference matches, including two straight-set sweeps to Stanford and Washington State -- two teams the Bruins managed to defeat earlier this season. The Wildcats are in eighth place in the Pac-12 standings with a 3-3 record, and have yet to defeat a ranked opponent this season. Their victories came over Arizona State in a five-setter, Oregon State in a sweep and Cal. Arizona has been held to sub-.160 hitting percentages and allowed opponent hitting percentages of .325 or better in two of its last three matches. As a team, the Wildcats rank ninth in the conference in hitting percentage (.228), kills per set (12.56) and assists per set (11.38).
Scouting the Sun Devils
Arizona State owns a 1-5 conference record through three weeks of Pac-12 play and are 0-5 versus ranked teams on the season. The Sun Devils lost to Washington State and Washington last week, and their three other conference losses were to Arizona, Oregon and Stanford. Arizona State's lone conference victory came against last-place Cal on Oct. 3. The Sun Devils are in the bottom third of the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (10th, .220), kills per set (10th, 11.93), assists per set (10th, 11.25), service aces per set (10th, 1.23), blocks per set (12th, 1.70) and opponent hitting percentage (11th, .237). Junior outside hitter Iman Isanovic is the Arizona State's leading point scorer with 292.5 points off 261 kills, ranking ninth and eighth in the conference, respectively, for each statistic.
Bruins in the AVCA Poll and More
The UCLA Bruins climbed to 14th in this week's AVCA rankings (Oct. 11, 2021). UCLA is one of six Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Top 25. UCLA has been ranked in the Top 25 in all eight weeks so far (17/preseason, 18/1, 16/2, 19/3, 19/4, 15/5, 16/6, 14/7). UCLA is the highest Pac-12 team in the NCAA's latest RPI at 11th place. Utah is the next closest at 12th. NCAA volleyball analyst Michella Chester slotted the Bruins at ninth on her Power 10 rankings.